A taxicab ferried us to the far side of Otavalo, to a lake at the foot of the volcano Imbabura. I love the casual aspects of this society! We were waiting at the bus stop for the bus to Otavalo when a taxi driver stopped and shouted out that he’d take anyone to Otavalo for 50 cents each.
We jumped in, and so did a teenage girl from the bus stop. She explained that she lives in Otavalo and had to go home anyway, so he offered discount rides to us.
Gary, our friend, and I went to a lovely resort on the edge of the lake, called Puerto Lago. Clearly, this is one place where more wealthy Ecuadorians go on vacation and play.
It’s meticulously landscaped with colorful flower gardens around the edges of the high-end modern cottages. All the homes were rental accommodations, and they all faced the lake at the foot of the volcano.
Every room appeared to have a view of the volcano, with its green sloped sides and cloud-decorated top.
Swings and Paddleboats
That afternoon, a group of adorable adolescent boys and girls were playing on the giant swing and the rental paddleboats. It amused me to hear them shrieking and pretending to need help and tossing things at one another and hurling mild insults from one boat to the other.
The giant swing sits at the very edge of the lake. The ropes are so long that you find yourself swinging out over the lake.
Behind the cottages is a meadow with six llamas staked out to graze. Each llama had munched a circle in the grass around its stake. Other circles around the meadow showed that they moved the animals around daily.
The caretaker told me the llamas loved to go for runs on their leashes.
His voice was full of affection as he talked about his llama friends. (for those who are curious, yes, they DO pronounce it “yama” in Spanish.)
We had a scrumptious, artistically presented gourmet lunch by the window in the lakeside restaurant. The boneless trout was fabulous, but the mushroom soup was world-class. After a chocolate mousse dessert, I left Gary and our friend to talk about politics and investments.
I went to lay on a chaise lounge on the lawn and gazed over the lake. Imbabura volcano rose from the edge of the lake up into the clouds, right before me. I half-dozed, half-meditated, and felt myself blend into the timeless presence of the area.
These are living but inactive volcanoes, still exhaling gently from the ancient depths of the earth. The quiet, still lake felt like a part of the volcano, living and breathing from deep within the earth.
It was nice to live for a day beyond the perimeters of the small impoverished town where we’ve spent most of our time. That poverty is not everywhere as visible in Ecuador. There are pockets of wealth and pockets of poverty and everything in between.
It was good to experience that. This is a country of multiple cultures and multiple lifestyles. The Quichua people are descendants of the Incas. The Mestizos are descendants of the Spanish conquistadors. They live side-by-side, together creating a tapestry that now includes communities of expatriates from other countries.
Have you experienced a getaway in Ecuador? Let us know where you went and what you did.
by: Bonnie Willow